Monday, April 23, 2007

Reno 911

Barely had the ink dried on the settlement in the civil case that I had to return to the courts. This time it was because I was wrongfully ticketed with an extremely harsh driving infraction in Nevada.

My buddies and I were returning from South Lake Tahoe to the bay area after a weekend of snowboarding when a huge snow storm hit the area to leave us grounded due to avalanche control. We returned to our hotel room and waited for the storm to subside. After nearly 12 hours, when the storm passed, we headed back by another route through Carson City/Reno. The roads had cleared out and we were making good distance on 395 when a cop turned his lights on. He was overwhelmed by the number of incidents during the storm and was in a very foul mood. He threw the book at me (I was the driver) for being slightly over the limit. We were shell-shocked when he gave me this ticket equivalent to a misdemeanor.

I had to clear my name. I decided to hire an Attorney to represent me as I didn't want to take any chances. Only I had to fly back in to Reno for the court hearing. My attorney made a pre-trial hearing with the prosecutor, the district attorney, and made strong points in my favor, citing my good driving record for starters. At the end of their conversation an agreement was reached. My case was dropped!

Great Success!!!

Unfortunately, as I was exiting the rental car was rear-ended.

There's no justice cruel world :(

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Driving Miss Desi

Over several posts I have written about the mapping options available for Indian destinations. I was checking out the new Yahoo India Maps and was very pleasantly surprised. I found the data there to be far superior than the wisdom-of-the-masses information displayed on WikiMapia. You can actually search by locality and street on Yahoo instead of just by the city.

I also found that Yahoo Maps was driven by a company called CE Info Systems just like Navteq drives most of the maps here in the US. A brief search led me to their own site MapMyIndia . Their web site had more goodies to offer- Directions!!!

I was finally able to map out the trip I used to take on the bus from Bangalore to my college. I am sure I wont have the courage to drive on that highway though.

Autorickshaw owners beware...we will catch your longer routes with this utility.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Future Shock

I visited a hi-tech campus today to meet a client. When I reached the lobby to get my visitor pass, I was greeted not by the smile and pleasantries from a receptionist but instead by a contraption consisting of a flat-screen television, cameras and a VOIP speakerphone...which had a big button next to it which read - 'Press here to speak to a Lobby Ambassador'.

A few seconds after pushing the afore mentioned button I was greeted by the Lobby Ambassador - Caeser on the television monitor...

I was in shock and awe, and for a while didnt know where to look at to make eye contact. When I recovered from the surprise I asked him for a badge. He said gladly and told me that it would be issued from the printer right in front of me. I waited for my badge to appear but there were no signs of any activity for over a minute. At which point he said, 'We are experiencing technical difficulties right now...Can you just write your name on a piece of paper instead'. I took out my pen and wrote it on a temporary, temp badge and walked into the building. So much so for technology.

As I walked past the hallway one particular display monitor caught my attention. It was displaying the news ticker and some stock information, when an application on the screen crashed right before my eyes.

I have seen the future...and it isn't pretty.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Somebody Gonna Get-a-Hurt Real Bad

I know Carlos Mencia is under fire for reusing other comics stuff. I just found some more of his recycling. I was watching the 2nd season of 'The Mind of Mencia' when I came across two sketches which were so similar to Russell Peters material from several years back that I had to make the comparison.

Compare the videos below:

Russell Peters

Carlos Mencia

Russell Peters entire schtick was based on the whupping routine and I remember him complain that internet downloaders (there was no youtube then) had nearly ruined his act as everyone had seen his material and he couldnt create new stuff fast enough.

I had actually watched both Carlos and Russell perform at the same venue in 2005 at the Wild 94.9 Comedy Jam. Carlos was the featured act that night but he sure took some inspiration from the lesser known comic.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

My Heavy Carbon Footprint

I used the Carbon Footprint calculator on ClimateCare to determine whether my eco-conscious efforts like using public transportation, using extra-blankets instead of heating in winter and using totes instead of paper or plastic while shopping had borne any fruits. Unfortunately, the the results were not flattering at all. The carbon emission calculator deemed me a carbon criminal.

My Carbon profile follows:

A single overseas trip of mine to India resulted in carbon emissions that exceeded those from the nearly 10000 miles I traveled in car in the previous year! There were more startling statistics about the costs to offset my carbon emissions:

Offset total: 10.92 tonnes of CO2
Cost to offset: $ 166.86*
Your Company Flights CO2 Emissions are 55 Tonnes
Distance flown: 55000 mile(s)
To offset this CO2 will cost: $ 840.41

An average British person has a carbon footprint of 11,000 kg each year (10.82 tonnes of CO2). I am over this amount by a really large margin. On a positive note - Not counting my air travel, I am well below the average.

The BBC is running an article on reducing the carbon footprint and another one -"Should I really give up flying?" that describes why an itinerant job profile like mine is injurious to the world's health. One of the biggest problems with CO2 emissions from planes is that the carbon is released higher up in the atmosphere, far out of the reach of photosynthesis.

I am hoping that the hydrogen fueled airplanes get deployed sooner so I can rid my guilt of my air travel. For the interim, I will do more tele-conferences and webex-es to limit my trips.

True Religion

So we are witnessing a growing nexus between department stores and religion...Contemporary Jean brands that are the rage lately use religion in their names, case in point True Religion and Blue Cult :)

I was walking past Union Square in San Francisco last night and found a huge Ganesha statue adorning the entrance of the store. This reminded me of a store in Bangalore - Kemp Fort where a huge Shiva Temple was built behind the mall. Devotees made a beeline for the temple and then did their post-prayer shopping at the mall. It was a clever strategy by the owners and it worked very well for them. It seems like the American department stores are taking a leaf out of the Indian stores strategy book and following suit to cash-in on success.

Shiva Temple - Kemp Fort, Bangalore

Note 1: The Ganesha decorations are part of an 'Imagine India' show.
Note 2: Kemp Fort is styled after either the Excalibur in Las Vegas or Disneyland, so there is a cross pollination in design.